People of The Living God

Matthew 28:1

 

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February 2010



JESUS CHRIST REIGNS NOW!

Randall Walton

        According to Paul’s letter to the Corinthians in chapter 15:24-28, Jesus is at present ruling and reigning over His creation with great authority and power.  “Then the end (cometh is in italics indicating it was not in the original) when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.  For HE MUST REIGN, TILL HE HATH PUT ALL ENEMIES UNDER HIS FEET.  THE last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.  For he hath put all things under his feet.  But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him.  And when all things shall be SUBDUED unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.”

        Praise God for His abundant mercies!  Too many give allegiance to Satan and his hosts as if they have great and marvelous powers to sway the multitudes and wreak calamities upon the earth and its peoples.  But let it be fully understood that neither Satan nor his hosts have the power nor the ability to overwhelm and control people’s lives unless they want him to!

        Jesus Christ is in full control of the matters and businesses of this earth because “the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.”  This does not mean that He approves of everything that goes on here.  It only means that He knows everything which goes on, and that He has the power and authority to judge the earth and its inhabitants for their unrighteousness and rebellion against Him.  But He still reigns!

        It was prophesied of Him that He would come out of Bethlehem, “for out of thee shall come a Governor that shall rule my people Israel” (Matt. 2:6).  This Governor ruled with authority and power and love, for from His lips came the most glorious and wonderful words of life to the people.  He issued forth the Sermon on the Mount, which while it was dictatorial in nature was, nevertheless, the plain, simple, understandable and doable words of heavenly intent.

        He enjoyed teaching children and holding them up to be followed by the self-righteous adults.  Twice in His ministry, He entered the temple and overturned the tables and cast out the money changers.  He never had to apologize for any act of His own.  He told the truth wherever He went and did rule God’s people with mercy, grace, compassion, and patience.  He was the perfect example of what God expects from all of us – loyalty to a cause, dedicated to the divine will of the Heavenly Father, telling the people that He could of Himself do nothing (He depended upon the Father to enlighten Him); He worked dozens of miracles, never taking credit for any of them; He loosed many people who were bound by Satan’s clutches, He delivered from chains of darkness those who were bound; He had the greatest compassion for the lost, the vagabond, the helpless, the hopeless, the down-and-outer; He welcomed the prodigal son to his former home.

        He walked on water during a storm; He transported a ship (or a boat) across the Sea of Galilee; twice He fed multitudes of hungry people from a small boy’s lunch or a few fishes and pieces of bread; He was the embodiment of caring for the destitute, the prostitute, the crippled, the blind, the lepers, the impossible people; He never attended a funeral (He raised the dead), but He did cry on two occasions (Jesus wept); He forewarned of coming disasters; He cautioned His followers about deceivers; He used Noah and Lot as examples of God’s mercy and grace; He saw the destruction of Jerusalem in advance and told the people it would come; He spoke of judgment, and the fierceness of the wrath of Almighty God upon the unbelievers and agnostics; He spoke about hell and the devastating nature of the hypocritical churchmen of His day; He said in words plain and clear that God demands and expects worshippers to worship Him in Spirit and in truth.

        After His death and resurrection He spent 40 days with the disciples preparing them for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon Pentecost.  He spoke about the kingdom of God and its significance in the lives of the people.  They took seriously His gracious words, and when they were all of one accord on that special day, the Spirit of the living God came down upon them, baptizing them spiritually and filling them with the Holy Ghost.

        The Spirit of God was so powerful in their midst that Peter stood up and declared that God had made that same Jesus, who was crucified before them, both Lord (Supreme Commander) and Christ (the Anointed One).  It is possible that the anointing presence of the living God brought back many memories of the times they spent with Jesus during the 3½ years He had with them, such as when He was in a conversation with some Jewish men.  He said, “ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father will ye do.  He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him.  When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own; for he is a liar and the father of it” (John 8:44).  “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day; and he saw it, and was glad” (John 8:56).  “Verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58).  “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture” (John 10:9).

        But the most withering blasts were reserved for the “scribes and Pharisees” who were extra-religious and were the very essence of piety and sanctimonium.  They were the ones who gave orders to the people, but Jesus said of them, “they say, but do not” (Matt. 23:3).  He called them hypocrites, blind guides, fools, whited sepulchres, full of dead men’s bones, full of hypocrisy and iniquity, serpents, generations of vipers, children of those who killed the prophets, and “how can ye escape the damnation of hell?”  The 23rd chapter of Matthew is full of denunciation by the King of glory.  Of them, He also said, “how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!”  Religious skunks, they were.

        Remember also how He was treated when He was “captured” by the “great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people” (Matt. 26:47).  They “spit in his face, and buffeted him, and others smote him with the palms of their hands.”  Further, they made a crown of thorns and put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand, and they mocked Him saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!”

        As Jesus stood before Pilate, He testified that “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36-37).  Pilate then asked Jesus, “Art thou a king then?”  Jesus’ answer is somewhat inaccurate in the KJV: “Thou sayest that I am king.”  But the Greek version says it thus: “Thou sayest it, for a king I am.  To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth.”

        The truth then and now is that He was/is a King, that He died, was buried, and rose again as a King, reigning and ruling as only He, Himself, knows how to rule and reign.  All the fine attributes of the divine nature were focused upon Him throughout His fake trial, His unmerited death on a cruel cross, and His miraculous resurrection on that glorious Sabbath day before sundown!  He came forth from the tomb victorious over death, hell, and the false claims of Satan, and He testified to John that He has the keys of hell and of death (Rev. 1:18).

        He is not only reigning now, He is the faithful High Priest, “the first begotten of the dead, and the prince (ruler) of the kings of the earth” (Rev. 1:5).  He is the Alpha and Omega; the first and the last; He holds the seven stars in His right hand; He was dead, but is now alive; He has the sharp sword with two edges; His eyes are like unto a flame of fire, and his feet like fine brass; He has the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; He is the holy one, He is true, He has the key of David, He opens and no man shuts, He shuts and no man opens; the faithful and true witness, the ruler of the creation of God; the Lamb of God; the Lion of the tribe of Judah; He rides a white horse; He is far above all principality, power, might and dominion; and is above every name in this world and that which is to come; He hath put all things under His feet, and is the head over all things to the church! (Eph. 1:20-22)

        It was prophesied of Him that “He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of His kingdom there shall be no end” (Luke 1:33).  Why has man tried to postpone this prophecy to a later date when all the evidence in the Scriptures points to a now situation?  We are well aware of Mr. Scofield’s attempt to put this off to another era, but he was entirely wrong on his false accusations.  Jesus never changed His divine ministry.  He kept talking about His kingdom even after His resurrection.  Peter, also, and Paul talked about the kingdom and its powerful message.  Toward the end of Paul’s journey in Rome, he was still talking about the kingdom of God and its representation on this earth, but in a now situation.  Not one of the apostles ever postponed the kingdom to a future state of being when Jesus would come back and set it up, and reign for a thousand years, or even a shorter period of time.  It is plainly lacking in every mention of the kingdom.

        We are going to list a number of Scriptures so you may look them up and see for yourselves that the kingdom of the living God is a present, spiritual reality and is available to “whomsoever will.”  These Scriptures will appear in next month’s issue of the Testimony of Truth.  God bless!

 

 

THE DIVINE PRESENCE

Randall Walton

        “For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake” (I Thess. 1:5).

        Paul was quite a preacher, wasn’t he?  It is refreshing to read about his ministry to the Thessalonians, for his message was not written out on a copy machine, nor was it memorized and repeated from place to place, but it was given under the inspiration of the power of God, in the Holy Ghost and with much assurance or conviction.

        Make a quick comparison between the present day delivery of the average minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the gospel as delivered by Bro. Paul in Thessalonica.  We are justified to ask, “Where is the power today?  Where is the ministry of the Holy Ghost?  Who gives the message of the Lord with much assurance?”  It is difficult to find preaching as described by Bro. Paul today.  The difference lies in the fact that Paul had a glorious, wonderful experience with the Lord Himself before he began his preaching.  He spent a valuable amount of time with Jesus Christ and the apostles before he began his personal ministry, and that made all the difference in the world.

        This is not to say that there are not a few genuine ministers of the gospel who are touched with the feelings of anxiety and the troubles of their congregations.  But there is not a genuine sense of empathy and sympathy among the ministry as it was in the days of Paul and the rest of the apostles.

        “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15).  He, Jesus, was moved with much compassion and sympathy as He viewed the populace in His day.  He was not above weeping over the condition which had descended upon the people of that time.  Yes, He was touched, and He ministered great power over all the power of the enemy.

        It is interesting that Matthew records the word power 8 times.  Mark uses the word power 7 times.  Luke uses it 17 times, and John refers to power 7 times.  All the remaining books of the New Testament record the word POWER 112 times.  This does not include the references to power that do not refer to the power of God.

        The real reason the word power and the word authority are so little in use today, is the outstanding lack of power and authority in the average church circle.  The power is gone – it disappeared many long years ago, and it has not yet returned to the body of Jesus Christ!  Men of the cloth today are satisfied to speak of issues which are unimportant or are totally irrelevant to the body of Christ.  The people, in general, are indisposed to the message of the good news; and, in some cases, the lack of power and authority makes room for entertainment, or some celebrity who knows little or nothing of the power of the cross of Jesus Christ.

        The church (and we use this term loosely) needs a real awakening by the Holy Spirit.  People need to know what their inheritance in God is all about.  They need to look into God’s holy word and see for themselves what Jesus Christ has done for them.  There are tremendous blessings for God’s people all through the New Testament Scriptures.  The Bible states precisely what God, by the power of the Holy Spirit, has done for His people in redeeming them from sin and iniquity.

        And once they have learned what it means to be a child, or a Son, of God, and have taken his yoke upon themselves, they need a great revival to break out upon them.  Remember the household of Cornelius, a Roman centurion who had authority and power over a hundred men.  He daily prayed and sought God with his house, and eventually his prayers came up before the Lord, and God rewarded the man and his household by bringing salvation through Peter into his midst.  Acts 10:44-48 states that they were baptized in the Holy Spirit before they were baptized in water: “on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.”

        This was a wonder of wonders to Peter and the men who came with him from Joppa.  God blessed them so abundantly and gave them a rich inheritance in Jesus Christ; this was not a show of force nor of coercion, for God literally opened the windows of glory and let these people know the holy presence of the living God.

        The people of God today need the same measure of devotion and consecration that those people had so in their devotions to Him.  We need the power which was theirs for the asking; we need the divine presence of the god of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to shine within these hearts of ours and reveal to us the glorious benefits of sitting at His feet and drinking in the wonderful blessings of the kingdom of God.

        It is difficult to properly evaluate the presence of God in our midst.  It is sufficient for every need: spiritual, physical, and financial.  We cannot get along without the divine presence with us at all times.  It seems strange that people go to church to be blessed of God and generally forget from one meeting to the next meeting what they had learned the week before!

        A religious service without the vital presence of the living God is like a vessel without a motor, or a sailing vessel with no sails!  It will not be profitable to anyone.  Only the amazing presence of God through the power of the Holy Spirit gives life and vitality to the meeting.  Without the anointing of the Holy Spirit, a meeting of bodies of flesh and blood is just that – and nothing more!  Dead bodies produce more dead bodies.

        In the early church it was not that way (Acts 4:23-37).  When the people of God came together to worship the Lord, their hearts were knit together in the love of God, and with one voice they lifted up their cries to the living God who responded with a shaking building where they were gathered together.  God was in their midst and He let them know that He was there!  And it was said of them that “by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people” (Acts 5:12).  This is a great need among the people of God today.  We should never become satisfied with a dead, dry meeting where the Spirit of God is not present.

        If you are meeting with a group of other people and the presence of Jesus Christ is not there, it would be best to cancel the meeting and seek the living God until the Holy Spirit enters and blesses the people.  It is not enough to be gathered into one place; it is not enough to agree to disagree; it is totally fleshly and carnal to carry on a meeting where there are differences of opinion and an argument comes forth; God will not, cannot, bless and lead a congregation which is so out of control.

        We urge you to seek God until you know that He is in charge of the proceedings, and that He is there to bless, to encourage, to lead and direct the meeting, and that He will lead and direct where He has complete control.  May God bless you and yours as you seek His blessed face.

 

 

THE WAY, THE TRUTH, THE LIFE

Randall Walton

        “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No man cometh unto the Father but by me” (John 14:6).

        This is so PLAIN that we wonder how, or why, so many people miss this important factor if they truly want and desire to be a follower of Jesus.  He made the road to heaven so obvious that we wonder how anyone could possibly miss it.  If Jesus is truly the way, the truth, and the life, it seems very impossible that anyone should miss out on finding Him, embracing Him, and obeying His most solemn words.

        He is pictured all through the books of the New Testament so vividly and so openly that to miss Him completely seems that a deliberate act of the will throws a shroud or a blanket over and about Him totally hiding Him from view.

        Read carefully the following:

He or His Father is mentioned 1,118 times

He is called Lord 628 times

He is referred to, or called Jesus 967 times

He is referred to as Christ 553 times

He is referred to as Almighty 9 times

He is referred to as Alpha & Omega 4 times

He is referred to as the Beginning and End 3 times

He is called King 40 times

He is referred to as the Lamb 30 times

He is called a Lion 1 time

He is labeled the Root of David 2 times

He is called the Son (of Man, of God) 205 times

He is referred to as a Star 3 times

        This makes a total of 3,553 mentions of Jesus Christ besides the other references about Him: the door, the rest, the master, the vine, etc.  It is practically impossible to read any of the passages of the New Testament without coming face–to–face with the glorious image of Him.  He is the center piece of the entire New Testament (covenant),because it is all about Him and His journeyings throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria.

The Way

        Everywhere He went He was the outstanding figure of the crowd.  He was truly humble: when pressed by the mother of John and James to always make sure they had a place of prominence with Him, He replied, “Ye shall drink indeed of my cup and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father” (Matt. 20:23).  He further instructed His disciples that, “whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister: And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:26-28).

        When He went in triumph into Jerusalem, He could have ordered a beautiful white stallion to carry Him there, but here He came on a lowly donkey to fulfill the prophecy concerning Himself: “Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass” (Matt. 21:5).  The word “meek” described Him completely!  He was truly the meekest of all humanity.  He came to do His Father’s will, and it was the Father’s will that He so came into the city in such a fashion.

        “And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest” (Matt. 21:9).

        Few there be that can cope with such attention as this and not be affected by it.  But Jesus fulfilled the prophecy of Zechariah and remained meek as usual.  He was the very picture of the fruits of the Holy Spirit in their beauty, their perfection, their glory, and their wonder.  To say less than that is to belittle the glorious accomplishments of the divine!

        Yes, He was the way!  He not only showed people how to live, but demonstrated the way they should conduct themselves.  Remember, He stated rather bluntly that a rich man was most unlikely to give up his possessions in order to secure a place or position with God and His invisible kingdom (which Jesus consistently preached).  He scorned possessions because He realized the power or influence they had on people’s lives.  He stated the futility of having “things” to cling to, knowing full well that people held tight to their stuff while rejecting the way of the cross – self crucifixion.

        He had so little of this world’s goods that those who condemned Him to die on that cruel, agonizing cross didn’t even bother to ask about His possessions, his house, or where anything was that He owned!  He came unto His own and they received Him not!  He stated that to do the Father’s will required complete and total dedication to His will.

        At one time in His life a man said to Him, “Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.”  But Jesus’ answer was right to the point.  “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay His head.  And he said to another, Follow me.  But he said, Lord suffer me first to go and bury my Father.  Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.  And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house.  And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:57-62).

        Jesus didn’t believe in excuses.  His plea was always the same: serve God whole–heartedly or don’t fool around!  Don’t start your argument with the Lord by proclaiming some other claim on your life.  You cannot deceive the Lord so don’t try!  Either serve God with your whole heart, or stop trying to serve both God and mammon.  It can’t be done, so don’t waste any valuable time by trying to do the impossible.

        God has said most plainly that you CANNOT have two gods: you can’t serve God part time; it must be all, and always, because He lived that way and conducted His life on those principles, and He expects no less than that from us.  God must be first in every transaction we make: it cannot be less than that.  It is ALL, or nothing at all.  This is the WAY He has chosen for us to conduct our lives.  Anything less than that is robbing God of His rightful place within our hearts and lives.

The Truth

        Truth, or the knowledge of the truth, is of great importance to the Lord who is the TRUTH.  One cannot live according to the flesh and the lusts of the flesh, and still love God with all his mind, all his heart, all his strength, and all his ability and serve God too!  It doesn’t work that way.

        As followers of Jesus Christ we are obligated to walk and live according to truth, which merely means that we must rule out of our lives everything and anything which is not based upon truth.  Jesus stated that He, Himself, is truth.  Therefore, we need to read, study, and search out the words and the sayings of Jesus Christ, and be aware of what He taught about the fine points of doctrinal issues.

        Have you noticed, for example, that nowhere in the Scriptures has He alluded to a rapture of the church before the tribulation; He never said a word about a millennium; He claimed to be a king in an invisible, heavenly kingdom; that He taught that we are responsible for knowing the truth and declaring it; that the kingdom of God is present, but not seen.  The basis of His teaching was that the kingdom of God was/is at hand.  And, thank God, that it is still at hand.  “The kingdom of God is within you!”

        Modern Christianity is so bogged down in rituals, forms and ceremonies, that they miss the eternal plan of the living God.  They embrace unchristian practices such as xmass, Easter, and Hallowe’en, and deny the blood of the everlasting covenant.  Where is the power of deliverance for the sick and infirm; where is the authority Jesus gave to His apostles?  Remember He said, “and nothing by any means shall hurt you” (Luke 10:21).

        According to John, every child of God should have an anointing on his/her life (I John 2:20,27).  That anointing will be a guiding light to the person who knows God.  It will be a glorious light that shines through the darkness of the world, and makes the truth more visible and understandable.  But where is that anointing today?  Too many people are satisfied to leave the anointing up to the minister, or the elder(s), or some other outstanding person in the congregation.  This is not according to the plan of the Lord who holds us all responsible for the conditions of the church of God.  God’s standards do not change; they remain the same irrespective of the circumstances or conditions.

The Life

        Jesus made an astounding statement in John 6:63: He said, “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are Spirit, and they are life.”  How precious are the words which came forth out of His mouth.  He said they are Spirit and life, that is, real, true, everlasting life!  If only we could assure mankind of this vital truth.

        Life, true abundant life is in Jesus Christ and His words, anointed and blessed by the Lord Himself, or as Peter said in John 6:68, “Lord, to whom shall we go?  Thou hast the words of eternal life.”  Whatever He said was meant to save the sinner and condemn the hypocrite and agnostic.  He had the words of eternal life, and those He used with the object in view to save the lost and the repentant while condemning those who were merely religious.

        He said, “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst” (John 6:35).  “I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world” (John 6:51).

        He further stated that, “As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me” (John 6:57).  He is saying in language easy to understand that if we eat his flesh, we must also live our earthly lives according to the demand of His own infallible words!  We are not saying that this is impossible; we are only stating the fact that it is entirely possible and necessary if we are going to please Him.  He had the words of eternal life, and if eternal life is what we expect to acquire or reach, then it is absolutely necessary that we follow and obey the everlasting words of our dear Master and Lord.

There is no other way, truth, and life except that which is in Christ Jesus.  It is high time that people recognized this vital, living truth, that life in God is depended upon our following Jesus Christ in everything He has commanded us to do.  We challenge you with the words, the sayings, and the commands of Jesus, that you study and search the Scriptures, especially the words of Jesus Christ, and see what He had to say about how to live, how to conduct your life, your relationship with the Almighty, your knowledge of the words and sayings and commands of Him who is the final Judge of all of humankind.

        This is quite serious business, friends, because we are assured that the day is coming when the unwise virgins (Matt. 25:1-13) will plead with God to let them go in, and He will answer them with these words: “Verily I say unto you, I know you not.”  The time to prepare and make oneself ready is now.  “behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (II Cor. 6:2).  Before the judgments of God fall heavily upon this nation which has turned its back toward God, it is time to make oneself ready to face the wrath of both God and satan and to stand before the Son of the living God.

        Remember, we are praying for you!

 

 

WHO IS THE ANTICHRIST?

Randall Walton

        There is a great deal of speculation as to who the Antichrist is.  We hear lots of stories about who he is, and it is amazing to us that so many well–meaning people believe that the present President of the U.S. is the man who will become the great enemy of the living God.

        It seems that in their excitement about wanting to know who the impostor is, they look for tell–tale signs and place the sign over his head as if that makes it official.  While it may be true that Mr. Obama may appear to have certain similarities to the “man of sin,” it is also a fact that he doesn’t have all of the many signs pictured in II Thess. 2:1-12.

        To further our belief that we don’t yet know who the “son of perdition” is, we need only to refer to some of the many signs so graphically pictured in II Thess.  Please understand that we don’t go along with the President and his vision of a socialist revelation (or revolution) for this nation.  We are 100% for democracy and republicanism, and we stand firmly on that ground because we love the liberty and freedom which those two combined qualities join together.

        In II Thess. 2, Paul assures us that the “coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” will not come about until two major happenings take place upon the earth: “except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed the son of perdition.”  Notice, please, the description Paul gives us concerning this “man of sin.”

        “Who opposeth and exalteth himself ABOVE ALL THAT IS CALLED GOD, OR THAT IS WORSHIPPED; SO THAT HE AS GOD SITTETH IN THE TEMPLE OF GOD, SHEWING HIMSELF THAT HE IS GOD.”  He will have all the unbelievable power of the kingdom of Satan (which is held in check presently), and will show that he is powerful “with all power and signs and lying wonders” (verse 9).  Many people will follow him because of the signs and miracles which he will be able to perform.

        It is a sad state of affairs that he will be able to work miracles, but his power is that of the kingdom of Satan, which at the present time is held in check by the Holy Spirit (verses 6 & 7).  But when he (Satan) is allowed to be loosed for a little season (Rev. 20:3b) then, and only then, will he be allowed to use his heldincheck power to try to overcome as many people as possible.

        We do not know who the antichrist, or the man of sin, will be, but he will be revealed when the time is right for his revelation.  But be aware of the identifying features of his personality: “who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.”  The temple of God is the human body (I Cor. 3:16).  Therefore, he will appear as a normal human being, but he will occupy a human body and “shew himself that he is God.”  With his ability to work “all power and signs and lying wonders,” he will demonstrate that he is God, and many people will believe him and follow him.

        Pay particular attention to the wording in this verse.  He is not God, but many people will behold his power and ability to work miracles and will believe that he is God, and will honor and obey him.  Because they “received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved,” “God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie, that they all might be damned” (verses 10-12).

        Now, this is very serious business.  Notice that these people make their own choice for the man of sin.  They have not received the love of the truth, and this justifies the act of God to send them strong delusions and be damned, those who had pleasure in unrighteousness.  This means that they are subjected to being deceived by the son of perdition and his “lying wonders,” and they receive the rewards of the unrighteous.

        However, God has given us enough proof of his identity to know the difference between the genuine and the false!  We will not be deceived unless we choose to be deceived.  We need to keep ourselves separated from the workers of iniquity and the purveyors of the ungodly errors which are afloat in these days.  There are many deceivers in the world who are involved in demonstrations of so–called power, and who claim great healing powers which God Himself has not called nor blessed.  Beware of these!  Follow the Lord and His word, and you will not be deceived when the antichrist appears.

        “For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let (withholdeth), until he (the Holy Spirit) is taken out of the way” (verse 7).  The Holy Spirit holds everything under His own power, and will continue this until He is removed!  The Lord is in charge of both heaven, the earth, and hell, and He will not make any changes without letting His true servants know in advance what He is doing.  He is the faithful witness!

        After giving Satan one last chance to prove himself powerful, the Lord will consume him “with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming” (verse 8).  The antichrist, or the “man of sin, the son of perdition,” will be totally and completely destroyed by the judgment of Almighty God on his evil actions.

        We do not believe that Barach Obama is the antichrist.  He does not measure up to all the signs that portray the coming “man of sin.”  However, beware of anyone who claims to possess supernatural or supernormal powers, and to show, or demonstrate, that he is God.  Such a one should not be believed, for he is a deceiver and a hypocrite who knows not the living God.  Follow Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, whose majesty and authority are above all of humanity, and who is superior in power and might to all of man’s ingenuity, and fidelity, and ability.  May our God be with you, now and through eternity!

 

 

A NEGLECTED CHALLENGE

Curtis Dickinson

        When Jesus called people to follow Him, He did not always mean for them to follow Him geographically, as did the apostles, from village to village.  Rather, He called them to follow His example and His teaching in daily life, wherever they happen to be.

        But His invitation was not sugar–coated and doctored up with subtle psychological appeal, as is usually done in today’s preaching.  Rather, He threw out a hard challenge: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me” (Matt. 16:24).

        Self–denial is unappealing and, therefore, is seldom mentioned in evangelism.  In fact, all of society inveighs against it.  Success, according to modern concepts, cannot be attained by denying self.  From every quarter – schools, television, the arts, the news media – we are conditioned to demand rights for ourselves.  Children are taught to have high self–esteem, and to expect every possible comfort and luxury.  Churches compete with the world to entertain them, and they grow up to pursue the American dream: have more things and more time for more pleasure.  Self–denial is not in their vocabulary.

        In His command to deny self, Jesus asks nothing of us that He has not been willing to do, and in every sense He denied Himself in order that He might do the Father’s will and accomplish His purpose.

        He said, “I seek not my own will, but the will of Him that sent me” (John 5:20).  In this He indicated that He had a will of His own, and could have made other choices, but in everything He denied such choices in order to please the Father and do His will.  By His unique wisdom and power He could have attained great glory in the world, and could have had every luxury and pleasure.  All of this He denied to Himself in order that He might obey the Father and become our Saviour and High Priest.

        Much of the appeal in modern religion is in that which can stir the crowd to a collective response.  In a large church, a multitude may be stampeded down the aisle through emotional hysteria, but to deny one’s self is an individual act of the will, in spite of – not because of – one’s emotions.  It is something else to confess Him out in the world before those who hate His rule.

        It is in the will where pride takes hold and produces stubborn disobedience.  This is my desire, my will, my decision!  The temptation of Eve was not merely the desire to eat the fruit; it was not her fleshly appetite that caused the sin.  What she couldn’t resist was the prospect of rising up to a level with God, “knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3:5), which meant establishing for herself what would be good or evil.  She would not deny her own will to obey the will of God.

        This scenario is being repeated throughout society.  In fact, society is disintegrating because man has denied God and has made of himself a thousand monstrous gods, all warring for supremacy.  For example, it was decided (Who decided it?) that children could not be taught morals in public schools, for this would be teaching them God’s will.  Instead, they were taught “values clarification,” which tells them to invent their own morals.  Like Satan told Eve, they could “know good and evil.”

        Today, a great many of these children, now grown, are clamoring for “gay rights” and “abortion rights,” the right to defy the will of God and make their own moral laws.  We who hold to the truth that such things are against God’s will are labeled as bigots and hate mongers!

        Denying self for Christ’s sake is usually seen as fanaticism.  Even the friends of Jesus said, “He is beside himself” (Mark 3:21), and the scribes said that He had a demon (Mark 3:22).  But Jesus denied Himself all the way, saying “Not as I will, but as you will” (Matt. 26:39), denying Himself even unto death.  For this, “God highly exalted him, and gave unto him the name which is above every name” (Phil. 2:9) “and made him to sit at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule, and authority, and power, and dominion” (Eph. 1:20,21).

        To deny ourselves in this self–seeking, pleasure–loving and arrogant age, firm belief is required in two categories.

        First, it requires that we believe that Jesus really meant it.  Did He mean that every person who becomes a Christian, rich or poor, regardless of his position in society, is to daily deny himself and take up his cross to follow Him?  Jesus told the rich young ruler to sell all his possessions and give the money to the poor (Matt. 19:21), but it is reasoned, and rightly so, that this does not apply to everyone.  Jesus was addressing a specific person with a special command for a specific purpose, and so far as we know, He never gave such an order to anyone else.

        [Editor’s note:  The preceding statement requires a qualified response.  Reference is hereby made to Luke 12:31-33: “But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you.  Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.  SELL THAT YE HAVE, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not,” etc.  Please note that this “order” was given not to a rich man, but to the “little flock.”]

        Jesus also made a universal statement: “whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33).

        In every age and with every person it remains factual that, “where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Luke 12:34).]

        But when He spoke of self denial, He said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself” (Matt. 16:24).  I can think of no way to limit this to a certain person or group, or to place it in a certain time frame.  It must mean me!  It must mean every Christian, not just those who accept a special role or who feel they have a special “calling.”  He wasn’t talking just to missionaries.

        Yet, it is almost unthinkable.  Take a teenage Christian girl, longing for recognition and popularity, surrounded with peer pressure to join the partying crowd – is Jesus talking to her?  The college graduate going out into the world of dog–eat–dog competition – does Jesus really expect him to deny self and daily take up his cross?  What of the senator or governor who professes to be a Christian?  Did Jesus mean for him to deny himself and do only the will of God?  In every circumstance?  Without a doubt that is exactly what Jesus meant.  But where are the officials who believe this?

        Just as hard to accept, and just as rare, is the faith that if one obeys this command without reservation, all will turn out well.  We have all seen what sometimes happens to people who take a stand for Christ against the company’s immoral policies.  They may be passed over for promotion, or fired.  Others may be identified as religious fanatics who deserve only scorn and condemnation.

        From a worldly view it doesn’t seem to pay to deny self and take up your cross.  But Jesus is addressing those who love not the world, but God and His purpose.  Self–denial is the acknowledgment that God’s purpose is the highest and best.  It is faith that God knows what He is doing, even if we don’t.  It is to believe Jesus’ promise: “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things (whatever we truly need) will be added unto you” (Matt. 6:33).  It is to believe that as we daily look to Jesus, we will be transformed into His image” (II Cor. 3:18).

        That also involves risk.  Do we want God to disrupt our lives, to tear away the image we have so carefully designed over the years, that we might look more like His humble Son?  Do we want Him to replace the personal qualities of which we are proud because they are so prominently us, with qualities which are much less attractive to the world – like humility, patience, compassion, godliness?

        The answer is yes.  The goal is the life designed by the Creator, and it cannot be attained by anyone with other desires.  Whosoever would save his life shall lose it, but whosoever would lose his life for Christ’s sake, shall save it (Luke 9:24).  What Jesus shows us is that this life is temporal and worldly values are temporal.  If in the process of denying self to follow Jesus one loses that which is temporal, it is no true loss, for what is gained is eternal.

        In this day of instant communication, with every major event anywhere on the earth immediately brought to our eyes in living color, we are apt to think of these events as the most important things taking place in the world.  But all the noise and change do not necessarily demonstrate the work of God.  “It is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13).  His work is not that which gets the headlines, like the activities of some celebrity.  Rather, He works quietly in giving a mother patience and wisdom, in sustaining a man in labor and trials, and in keeping the young person from falling into temptation.  His is the silent work of giving grace to the humble and transforming believers into people ready to be received by Jesus when He appears at the great day of resurrection (John 14:3; I Thess. 4:16).

        When people think of Christ, they think of One who sought nothing for Himself, but humbled Himself as a servant, and denied Himself even to the point of dying for the ungodly (Rom. 5:6).  But they often look in vain for the same qualities in Modern Christians.

        As we confront the critical problems of our nation, we must remember that we will labor in vain unless, first of all, we deny self, take up our cross, and follow Jesus.

 

 

THE ATOMIC BOMBINGS OF JAPAN: WERE THEY MORALLY RIGHT?

H. B. Gow

During World War II, the United States dropped two atomic bombs on Japan and caused such devastation and death that Japan finally was forced to surrender unconditionally.  Even though the bombings occurred more than five decades ago, moral questions and issues concerning the use of the bombs persist.

Were the atomic bombings of Japan morally right?  Were they a strategic necessity?  To answer such questions, we must consider the sadistic behavior of Japanese soldiers and the possible human costs of a prolonged war.  As the British scholar/ethicist Jonathan Glover points out in his new work Humanity: A Moral History of the 20th Century (Yale University Press), “Japanese occupation of Asian countries was bloody and cruel.  People were beheaded or cut in half from top to bottom, and put on display to frighten people.  People from China, India and Malaya, as well as Allied prisoners, were used as forced labour…The slave labourers were given little food.”

Consider, too, the human costs of prolonged conflict: “A longer war would have cost many more American and Japanese lives.  The capture of Iwo Jima had cost nearly 7,000 American and 20,000 Japanese lives…Okinawa had cost 12,500 American and 100,000 Japanese lives.”

It is necessary, too, to reflect on the sadistic and barbaric conduct of Japanese soldiers and the atrocities they committed against Chinese civilians.

The Rape of Nanking, produced by Lou Reda Productions (44 North Second St., Easton, PA, USA) is an excellent film that documents the horrifying and terrifying atrocities committed by the Japanese military machine during the invasion of China, as well as the immense charity and courage of Western religious and business leaders and humanitarians who risked their lives to provide a safe haven for Chinese people escaping Japanese soldiers, who had reduced themselves into animals without a conscience or sense of decency and morality.

As Lou Reda Productions explains, “On December 13, 1937, Japanese troops at war with China burst into the beautiful and ancient Chinese capital city of Nanking and perpetrated a massacre with cruelty beyond conceiving.  They slaughtered more than 350,000 military and civilian prisoners, more than half the population…Prisoners were beheaded, disemboweled, burned alive, used for bayonet practice.  Tens of thousands of Chinese women were raped, often in schools and nunneries, and then mutilated and murdered…But for the bravery of a handful of Western missionaries and businessmen in establishing a beleaguered safety zone, the extermination might ‘have been total.’”

As Dr. Stanley Weintraub, the Penn State University scholar/educator, documents in his fine work The Last Great Victory (New York: Dutton Books), the evidence demonstrates that the atomic bombings of Japan to end World War II were morally justified and a strategic necessity.

Dr. Weintraub makes clear in his scholarly, informative, and thought–provoking book that, though some Japanese politicians may have indicated a desire for a negotiated peace agreement, they always were overruled by the military leaders.  Even after the first atomic bomb was dropped, Japanese military officials refused to acknowledge defeat and insisted on fighting to the bitter end.  And even after the second atomic bomb was dropped, Japan’s military and political leaders were deadlocked concerning whether or not to surrender.  Indeed, it was only after Emperor Hirohito intervened that Japan’s military and government officials finally agreed to surrender unconditionally.

As Dr. Weintraub points out, both Nazi Germany and Japan had been working on the development of their own atomic bombs.  Certainly if Nazi Germany had been first to develop the atomic bomb, Adolf Hitler would have used it on Great Britain and the United States, and without feeling guilty about it.  Similarly, if Japan had developed the atomic bomb, it would have gleefully utilized it against America, even as it remorselessly bombed Pearl Harbor.  We only can thank God that America and Great Britain developed the atomic bomb first and beat Japan and Germany to the punch.

Throughout World War II both Nazi Germany and Japan displayed a blatant disregard of and contempt for human rights and the standards of decency, justice and morality.  Nazi physicians showed no moral qualms about their sadistic “medical” experiments on concentration camp inmates; and, like their Nazi counterparts, Japanese doctors exhibited no shame in conducting gruesome “medical” experiments on Allied prisoners of war; moreover, Japan employed germ and biological warfare in its sadistic attacks on helpless and defenseless Chinese civilians.

 

 

SIGNS, WONDERS, AND MIRACLES

J. Grant Swank, Jr.

        We pray for spectacular extravaganzas at times.  This is because we believe in a mighty God for whom nothing is impossible.

        When we ask of Him outstanding answers to petitions, we want to line up our expectations with the wisdom of Scripture.  If we fail at this point, we could enter into a “twilight zone” of religion which is not of God.

        For instance, Jesus warned that at the close of the church age there would be “great signs and wonders” (Mt. 24:24).  However, the power behind these is demonic, not of deity.

        Jesus cautioned that many would be led astray by these outlandish deeds.  Some of our own church folk may become duped, He predicted.  “Behold, I have told you before” (Mt. 24:25).  How kind of Jesus to tell us ahead of time in order for us to be on guard.

        What is God’s purpose of signs, wonders, and miracles?  It is not only to help those caught up in such loving power; it is also to make clear eternal truths.  The extraordinary is to support the expounding of the Word.

        Jesus said to “go into all the world, and preach the gospel” (Mk 16:15).  The divine message is always paramount.  “These signs shall follow” (Mk. 16:17).  Astounding acts from heaven become supports to the Word given forth.

        This divine order is absolutely significant.  First, there is the preaching.  Second, there is the proof of the preaching’s heavenly origin by “signs.”

        Why is this progression important?  Because the Word made clear redeems a soul; it is the setting forth of the salvation plan.  Signs in themselves cannot do this.

        What happens when signs are divorced from the gospel preached?  Then they focus on human ego, can blur into relativism, and mire down in display for display’s sake alone.

        When the Spirit came upon some of the early church, wonders were evidenced.  Simon the magician saw these.  He had himself mystified people of Samaria with demonic powers.  Now he wanted in on the Spirit’s dynamo; therefore, he offered Peter money to get in on “the take.”

        “Your silver perish with you” Peter said to bogus Simon (Acts 8:20).  Peter continued to speak “the Word of the Lord…preaching the gospel” (Acts 8:25) in order for Simon and others to come to salvation.

        Simon had tried to se miracles for his benefit.  Peter made clear that wonders were to endorse the Word, not the other way around.  Further, God’s signs were never to be so prostituted as to further one’s own conceit.

        No wonder then that the Gospel of Mark concludes on this note: “And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the Word with signs following” (Mk. 16:20)

        First, the preaching.  Second, the proof of the preaching’s integrity with divine signs.

        It was the same with Moses.  He confronted Pharaoh with the preaching that the Hebrew slaves’ God is truly deity.  (Pharaoh thought himself to be the god of gods.)

        With one pronouncement after another, Moses sought to strike the truth against Egypt’s stubborn heart.  To buttress his proclamations, Moses worked wonders by way of plagues. 

        Pharaoh’s magicians were able to mimic these wonders to a point; then they halted.  The reason is because God tops Satan’s power; even the pagan magicians admitted this to Pharaoh.

        So it is we read: “God brought us up out of the land of Egypt, [doing] great signs in our sight” (Joshua 24:17).

        When Jesus started His public ministry, His first words were “Repent.”  That was the call to salvation.  Then the marvelous acts followed to convince the populace of His messianic mission.

        No wonder Peter, looking back, said of Jesus’ witness and work that He was “a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs” (Acts 2:22).

        It made divine sense for Peter’s own early preaching to be accompanied with the unexplainable: “fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles” (Acts 2:43).  However, first the hearers “gladly received his word” (Acts 2:41) before they were privy to miracles as supports.

        The same pattern exemplified Philip’s ministry: “Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.  The people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spoke, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did” (Acts 8:5-6).

        Paul appreciated this same order of preaching followed by miracles: “For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ hath wrought by me, to make the Gentiles obedient, by word and deed, Through mighty signs and wonders by the power of the Spirit of God” (Rom. 15:18-19).

        Signs of the devil are on the increase.  Goddess worshippers outside Boston witnessed to reporters of experienced miracles, particularly of inner healings which brought tears to worshippers.  People testified to being made whole, coming into deeper spiritual depths and being decidedly moved by invisible workings.

        A woman religious leader spoke on a popular television talk show of being filled with Jesus’ Spirit.  Yet she endorsed reincarnation and karma in her next sentence.  Further, she invited the public to attend her “warm and loving” worship center.

        Today, more than ever before, Christians must make certain that they align signs, wonders, and miracles to the entire Word of God.  It will make all the difference in eternity in separating the light from the darkness.

 

 

LETTER TO READERS

 

Dear Readers,

        For those who have already changed your subscription to the online subscription, please read the P.S. at the bottom of this notice.  For those who have not, please read the following.  Thank You.

        Due to the increase cost of paper and other materials involved in printing the Testimony of Truth (TOT) and the continual rising price of postage, we are asking that any, who wouldn’t mind receiving the TOT each month by email instead of the printed copy, would notify us and allow us to put you on our email list and remove your name from the printed version.  The way it is set up is that you would send your e-mail address to testimonyoftruth@blomand.net where it will be put into a data base for the sole purpose of mailing the TOT to you.  You would then only open your email and the TOT will open.  All the articles will be there along with the titles and authors, just as it appears in the printed copy which you now receive through the postal service.  Your email address will be used only for this purpose and will not be given out.

        We do not want to stop sending the TOT to anyone who desires to receive it and will continue to send the printed copy each month to all who either prefer to have a printed copy or who do not have internet access.  We do not want anyone to feel pressured or uncomfortable with this change, so do not feel you have to receive the magazine through email.  It will be a help to the ministry here at “People of The Living God” if those who can and don’t mind would make this change.  If you are willing to receive the TOT through email, just email your name and postal mailing address along with a current email address to testimonyoftruth@blomand.net and we will automatically drop your name from the printed mailing list and add it to the email list.  This will help us use the saved funds for other ministries in which “People of the Living God” is involved.

        If at anytime you feel you would like to change back to the printed magazine, just send a note to testimonyoftruth@blomand.net or potlg@blomand.net and your name will be added to the postal mailing list and removed  from the email list.

        Also, we are working diligently to get our website up and running fully, and at that site you will be able to take a closer look at the ministry of “People of the Living God” as well as archives of TOT, tracts on various topics, and pictures.  We are also working on getting some of our Sabbath messages and teachings online in audio form so those who are interested can listen to the sermons.  Some of our church members donate their time to print and address the printed copy of TOT; the email avenue will help us tremendously.  We appreciate every subscriber and pray God will continue to bless you as you walk with Him.

                                Thank You,

                                The TOT Staff

P.S.  We have noticed that the online TOT, which is being sent to your email address is many times being sent by your server to your spam box.  Please, check your spam and click to allow the TOT to be sent to your main box so this will not cause problems for you in receiving the online TOT messages.  We truly appreciate all those who have sent for this online version of the Testimony of Truth and for the words of encouragement from our readers.  May God richly bless you in your service to Him.